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Martin Malley

Age: 51

Occupation:IT Manager

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Sailing Date: May 29th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My family of 2 adults and 2 girls ages 12 and 14 just completed our first cruise with kids on Rhapsody of the Seas. It exceeded all our expectations. The ship was beautiful and immaculately maintained. Our balcony stateroom on deck 7, while not exceptionally spacious, worked out just fine for the 4 of us, with the girls using the fold-out couch. Service in the dining room, Windjammer, and stateroom was first class.

We used L.J. Cormier to transfer us from Houston to Galveston on the morning of the cruise, and boarding at about 11:00 AM was very quick and easy. Lunch was available in the Windjammer until the stateroom was ready at 1:00 PM.

The first two days were underway en route Jamaica. The days were full of activities for the kids, which they enjoyed very much.

In Jamaica we had a beautiful day in Ocho Rios, where we booked tours through an independent operator (Barrett Adventures). We climbed Dunn’s Falls first thing in the morning, ahead of the crowds; tubed down the White River, and spent the afternoon at a secluded beach with only a handful of other people.

Thursday’s stop in Grand Cayman was challenged by weather. It rained all day. We were, however, able to visit Stingray City and do some reef snorkeling with Captain Marvin. All of the ship’s shore excursions for snorkeling and Stingray City were cancelled due to weather. I was a little nervous as we were riding out to Stingray City in Captain Marvin’s boat, because a squall passed over, tossing up some pretty confused seas. By the time we got to the sand bar, things had settled down – and the experience with the stingrays was “once in a lifetime”. Grand Cayman itself is still in pretty bad shape from last year’s hurricane, with debris everywhere and lots of building damage still in evidence.

Friday we were in Cozumel, a gorgeous day. We took the ship sponsored excursion to Tulum and Xel Ha, which involved a 40 minute ride to Playa del Carmen on a ferry – but in spite of concerns about how rough that trip can be, it was not bad for us. Tulum and Xel Ha is too much to cover comfortably in 8 hours, we were pretty rushed and never had time to shop. They are both beautiful attractions, though.

When the ship left Cozumel Friday evening we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, over the Yucatan.

Saturday was a relaxing day at sea, the kids were busy with activities, and I enjoyed reading on the balcony.

Disembarking on Sunday was very smooth. We used express departure (meaning carry your own bags and get off first). We were off the ship and through customs in less than 45 minutes.

Overall, highly recommended – there is nothing I would change about the trip (except the size of my SeaPass bill).

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